How long is a dissertation? This is one common question every student who is pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree asks whenever they are assigned a task to write a dissertation. If you are also one such student who wishes to know about the length of the thesis, then this simple guide is for you. Here, we have presented a brief overview of the research writing, the length and the components of the dissertation, and the average length of each dissertation chapter.
Continue reading this guide and gain a complete understanding of thesis writing and how long a dissertation should be.
What is a Dissertation?
A dissertation, also known as a thesis in some countries is a research project that should be completed as a part of an undergraduate, postgraduate, or doctoral degree. It can also be identified as the final assignment the students have to submit to obtain graduation.
In general, a dissertation is an academic paper that allows students to present their findings as a response to a research question or topic they choose to write about in their discipline. Its main purpose is to help the professors assess students’ overall research skills and knowledge they have gained during their time at the university or college and to determine their final grades.
If you are a higher education student, then you can’t escape from submitting your dissertation. Usually, for writing, supervisors will share some formatting guidelines and writing specifications. As a dissertation is one of the longest assignments to complete, some students will find it difficult to prepare it. Basically, thesis writing is not an easy task. It requires months of preparation and hard work to choose a rewarding educational dissertation topics and craft a brilliant thesis as per the instructions of the professors. Typically, the dissertations are of different types. In the next section, let us have a detailed look at the various types.
Types of Dissertation
Depending upon the course of study, these are classified into two different types.
A non-empirical dissertation is a kind of theoretical dissertation that will mainly involve an analysis of the existing research, data, and arguments. For preparing this thesis, you should spend most of your time referring to credible resources such as books, already published research papers, magazines, and so on. Note that, while writing a non-empirical dissertation, you shouldn’t simply describe what others said, but you should critically analyze the work and explore its real-time applications. If you are a student who belongs to history, art, linguistics, literature, etc., then you will have to submit this dissertation as your final assignment.
An empirical dissertation is a type of dissertation that will rely more on practical study or hands-on experience. While writing an empirical dissertation, your research findings should be based on your investigation, survey, or laboratory experiment. It is one of the common types of dissertation that students who belong to psychology, science, or other departments that involve a lot of experiments prepare as a part of their final assignments.
Till now we saw about dissertations and their types. Next, let us have a glance at the length of the dissertation.
How Long is a Dissertation?
For this question, there is no single or definite answer. Mostly, the length of a dissertation varies based on the writing style, research topic, and the objectives of the writer. Besides that, the average length of a dissertation also varies according to the student’s study level, educational institute, and country.
In general, for the undergraduate level, the dissertation length should range between 10,000 and 12,000 words. For a master’s degree, the length of a dissertation can be around 15,000-25,000 words and for a Ph.D. level, the word length can be 50,000 words or more.
Similar to word count, there is no fixed length for page count too. Some people say that the dissertation can be an average of 100-200 pages long. Some say it should be 146 pages long while a few say it should be 90 pages. As there is no proper length and practical suggestion for how long a dissertation should be, we advise you to stick to your professor’s dissertation writing instructions, if there are any.
In academic life, a dissertation plays a vital role in obtaining a graduate degree. So, commonly many students will try to pay more attention to the length of the dissertation. Don’t worry in case you are unaware of the length of your dissertation. Since the dissertation length is not defined, while writing your academic paper, make sure to concentrate more on your research paper topics and content.
Note that, most of the time, the research area that your dissertation focuses on will influence your academic paper length. Say, for instance, the average dissertation length of a history topic will be more likely longer than a dissertation on a physics topic. As far as a dissertation is concerned, the academic discipline plays a vital role in deciding the overall length.
How Long a Ph.D. Dissertation Should Be?
Academicians usually say that the Ph.D. dissertation should be around 80,000 words. Therefore, your text should be within this length. This word count includes the appendices and it doesn’t take into account references, footnotes, and bibliography. Remember, the footnotes of your Ph.D. dissertation should not cross 20% of the entire text.
If you calculate the word length by including the footnotes, then there will be variations in the overall average length of the dissertation. In general, the statistical tables of a dissertation are estimated to be around 150 words each. But in certain exceptional situations, the Degree Committee will allow you to exceed the limit. In order to make use of this benefit, you should make sure to inform the committee well before the date you propose to submit your dissertation. You can modify the predefined average length of the dissertation only if the graduate committee allows you. Note that, before giving you approval for this exception, the committee will completely evaluate your application.
In case, you are not given the approval to change the dissertation length, you can’t make any modifications. Remember, if your average length exceeds without proper approval, then your work will be referred back to you for revision before forwarding it to the next panel for evaluation.
Average Length of Dissertation
As said earlier, in order to define an average length of a dissertation, many factors play an essential role. However, while crafting a Ph.D. dissertation, you should maintain a word count of 80,000 to 100,000 words. Say, on average, the page count can be around 204. But, mostly, the average length of a doctorate thesis depends on the research topic you choose to write about and your university.
While assigning a task, the university will generally set the formatting requirements for the academic paper, including the length. Nevertheless, most institutes allow the average length to be around 100,000 words. As per a research result, the medium length of the STEM dissertation is said to be around 159 pages. On the other hand, the medium length of the Non-STEM dissertation is around 223 pages. Therefore, there is a huge difference in the length between non-STEM and STEM dissertations.
Different Components of Dissertation
In general, a dissertation is an academic paper that explains a research topic in detail with proper evidence, facts or examples after critical analysis. While drafting a dissertation, you should make sure to organize your ideas in a proper way as per your professor or university’s instructions. Basically, to help your readers get a better understanding you should structure and format your dissertation by dividing it into different sections.
Note that, there is no defined structure for a dissertation. However, a well-structured dissertation will more commonly contain the following essential chapters or sections.
- Literature Review
In the next section, let us have a quick glance at the average length of each dissertation chapter, component, or section.
How Long is a Dissertation Chapter?
Another question that would be lingering in your mind would be ‘how long a dissertation chapter should be?’ Well, similar to the overall average length of the dissertation, the length of each chapter of the dissertation also varies depending upon the content presented under each chapter. But if you add the right information concisely, then your final draft would have the right length. Below we will have a look at the rough estimate of how long each chapter in a dissertation should be.
Length of a Dissertation Proposal
A dissertation proposal is the first step in writing a dissertation. It is nothing but a research plan. In the dissertation proposal, you should mainly include details regarding the research topic, research purpose, and research methods.
As the name suggests, a dissertation proposal is a document that proposes the research work to be done. The ultimate aim of the dissertation proposal is to convince your faculty that your research question is worth analysis.
For writing a dissertation proposal, there is no specific length. However, it is considered a long and formal document. Mostly, faculties recommend writing the dissertation proposal between 15 and 20 pages. The length of a dissertation proposal typically varies depending upon the factors such as the issue to focus on, reasons to address the issue, solutions for that issue, and the sources of references.
Dissertation Abstract Length
The dissertation abstract refers to the summary of the dissertation. It mainly reports the research aims and outcomes. Just by reading your abstract, your readers should be able to understand what your dissertation is all about. The abstract section will generally state the research objectives, problem, methods, results, and conclusion.
Typically, a dissertation abstract’s length range between 150 and 300 words. But especially, when you write the dissertation abstract, you should strictly limit the content according to the total number of words specified by your university or professor.
Length of a Dissertation Introduction Section
The introduction is the opening section of the dissertation. It will mainly inform the readers why the research topic is important. When writing a dissertation, you should make sure to mention the relevant facts about your research topic. Essentially, through the dissertation introductory paragraph, you should explain to the readers why you have chosen the research problem or topic and what makes it relevant.
In general, the dissertation introduction section you write should be between 10 and 15 pages. Most importantly, this chapter should be concise and it should attract the audience without revealing anything in detail. Remember, your introduction should act as a teaser for your academic document and it should be simple, short, and formal. Typically, the introduction section you craft should cover nearly 10% of the entire paper word count.
Length of a Dissertation Literature Review
The chapter that comes after the introduction is the literature review. It is one of the important sections in the dissertation where you should analyze the relevant sources that you have chosen for your thesis work. When writing a literature review, you should concentrate only on the sources that you have used to prepare a dissertation. Especially, in this section, you should analyze and list out all the strengths and weaknesses of your sources. The average length of the dissertation literature review that you prepare should be between 20 and 25 pages.
Length of a Dissertation Methodology
The methodology is the next chapter to be included after the literature review. The methodology section will mainly discuss the methods and data that are used for research. Also, this section will particularly mention the ways of contacting the sample population and the data. When writing the methodology section, you should make sure to maintain the word limit between 10 and 15 pages.
Length of a Dissertation Results Section
The results chapter is one of the essential components of a dissertation. It should mainly feature the list and provide an in-depth clarification of the obtained results or findings. In the dissertation, the research findings should be mentioned alongside the hypotheses explicitly. Especially, when writing the results section, you should state whether they were confirmed or refuted. Also, in this section, you should add a conclusion for everything you have completed as far as your investigation is concerned. A typical dissertation results chapter should not exceed 10 pages. On average, it should be around 5% of the entire paper word count.
Length of a Dissertation Conclusion Section
A conclusion also called a discussion is the final chapter of the dissertation that typically focuses on research implications. When writing a conclusion section, you should maintain a length between 15 and 20 pages. As such it should nearly be around 40% of the total word count. Particularly, in this section, you should provide a bigger picture of research from various perspectives. Also, here you should mention some recommendations while acknowledging limitations.
When writing each chapter in the dissertation, remember to stick to the average word count and page count as discussed above. But in specific, while defining the length of your dissertation chapters, consider the factors such as research topic, university formatting guidelines, and aim of your research.
How Long Does It Take To Write a Dissertation?
Till now we saw the average length of each chapter of a dissertation document. Next, let us see how much time it would take to complete writing a dissertation. Usually, the total time required for preparing a dissertation varies from person to person. Some important factors that play a vital role in determining the total duration of dissertation writing are your speed of work, manner of work, your availability, and involvement. On average, the total time it takes for the entire dissertation writing process will be around 18 months.
Get Dissertation Writing Help
Writing a dissertation is one of the challenging and exciting tasks to handle. In particular, for preparing a top-class dissertation, you should invest a lot of time and effort. When it comes to writing a dissertation, firstly you should choose a good research essay topics, perform deep research on the topic you have chosen, and then prepare a paper after critical analysis. Most importantly, in order to score an A+ grade, the dissertation or thesis you prepare should stand in line with the formatting guidelines or dissertation writing instructions of your supervisor or university.
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